Moving Toward a Maker Mindset
By Mrs. Nicole Stuto
When we think about the qualities and values that we are hoping to instill in our children, the words teamwork, creativity, growth, collaboration, and a knowledge of literature are among them. You may have heard the term “makerspace” before- a maker-space is essentially any area where you have the opportunity to make or create, where supplies, skills and ideas are shared, and where teamwork is essential
“I have had the pleasure of watching the students use the makerspace and stem activities on a variety of different occasions. With the ozobots, I’ve seen the kids working together in a team based approach to map out a plan, acknowledge their classmates’ ideas and suggestions, and incorporate it into their end programming design. It’s amazing to watch the class have such a great time learning how to program and code in a supportive fun environment.” Dr. Jeannette Simon- Brookdale mom of Sophia (4th grade) and Lily (Kindergarten)
Many libraries have found that maker culture fit naturally with their existing missions and have begun to incorporate this type of learning as a way to enhance lessons. Mrs. Walker has taken the goals of the library curriculum and transformed them to meet the needs of our 21st century learners. Critical thinking and problem solving skills are merged with thinking empathetically about the needs of characters in a story. The infusion of these learning goals into library instruction have allowed our students to connect and engage with literature, while using STEM and design thinking to foster an inquiry based approach to learning.
STEM challenges became a part of the library classroom, serving as an extension of the curriculum and with connections based in literary texts. With the increase of chrome books throughout the building and the continued integration of technology in general education classrooms, there became less of a need for the standalone technology lab. The technology lab at Brookdale has transformed over the past year and the makerspace continues to evolve in its place.
“The makerspace is always evolving to provide opportunities for students to collaborate, create and use the design process to problem solve. The learning is directed by a specific problem that students have to brainstorm and design ways to solve or guided by student interest and passion. Giving students access to both high-tech materials such as robotics, as well as low-tech materials such as cardboard allows students to take part in the decision making process and promotes self-directed learning. I find myself learning from the students as I watch them figure something out or find new ways to do things. It has been an incredible experience for me as an educator to see students embrace failure as an opportunity to grow and celebrate success and perseverance as they work through a challenge.” Corisa Walker, School Librarian
Items that students utilize in the makerspace range from cardboard to Ozobot robots. Students have engaged in creating and narrating the timeline and story of Rosa Parks, and used the robots to code a move at each significant moment in her life. Another literacy connection was made when students read a book about space travel and then worked in teams using blocks and magnatiles to build something that would make life easier on a spaceship. Among some of the other available items, which were largely funded by an anonymous donation to Brookdale, are iPads, Makey Makey, Sphero, and Cubelets. Activities in the makerspace are not just designed as “play,” but as exploration of passion and challenges that require collaboration and perseverance. The room is meant to encourage experimentation without the fear of making mistakes.
The impact that the makerspace has already had on the students is real. There are countless lessons learned throughout the inquiry process and the real-life experiences children have encountered are certain to be ones our students will not forget.
“I think the makerspace is great because you get to create and work together as a team. We build things, are challenged, and have to learn from our mistakes.” Sola Takahashi, Third Grade Student
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